Summary: The cry of freedom is what America celebrates this week. Freedom, however, comes in many forms. The political freedom Wallace heralded and that America celebrates is but one. We would do well to remember the others. That is at least part of what Je
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: William Wallace knew freedom’s value. If you saw the movie Braveheart, you will likely never forget the climactic ending. Bravehart told the story of William Wallace, the leader of the Scottish rebellion against the English in the 1400’s. Mel Gibson directed and starred in the 1995 movie.
Wallace rallies a rag tag band of rebels who battle the larger and must better-armed English. Despite the odds, Wallace’s men win battle after bloody battle against the English. Longshanks, the villainous English leader, grows more and more impatient with Wallace with each passing day. He is determined to kill the rebel leader and teach the Scots a lesson once and for all.
As the movie ends, Wallace is betrayed by a friend and captured by Longshank’s men. He is hauled before a jeering English crowd in the courtyard of one of Longshank’s castles. The crowd spits on him and shouts for his death. Soldiers drag him to the executioner’s platform. They beat and torture him. If he begs for mercy, they say, they will make the death quick.
This is the day Longshanks has waited for. But it is not as he had hoped. The English leader lay on his death bed. In his room not a hundred yards from the chaotic scene below. He knows his hours are numbered. Yet Longshanks holds out for one thing. He wants to hear Wallace beg for mercy.
At first Wallace remains silent. He refuses to respond to his torturers. Finally, he tries to say something. He struggles. The beating has left him hoarse and hardly able to speak. A soldier motions the crowd silent so they can hear Wallace beg for his life. The camera zooms in on Wallace as he gasps for air. With great difficulty he lifts himself on one elbow. Everyone awaits his words. As the sounds leave his lips, the movie changes to slow motion. The camera angle widens until you can see both Longshanks on his death bed and out the window the Wallace on the executioner’s platform. The movie fades to black as Longshank strains to hear Wallace’s cry for mercy. Instead the Scottish patriot screams one word. His cry of FREEDOM echoes through the palace and across the highlands.
The cry of freedom is what America celebrates this week. Freedom, however, comes in many forms. The political freedom Wallace heralded and that America celebrates is but one. We would do well to remember the others. That is at least part of what Jesus referred to when he said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Consider the freedoms we celebrate today.
First, we can celebrate political freedom. That’s what this week’s holiday is all about. It is good to celebrate our liberties. I fear many of us take for granted the liberties we enjoy in this land. We are blessed with freedom the like of which few elsewhere enjoy—freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to elect our own leaders and make our own laws, and then the freedom to complain and criticize. Whatever else is true—America remains the freest country on this planet.
You might wonder what political freedom has to do with our text. It relates in two ways. First, did you catch the objection of the Jews in our text? Jesus had been explaining his mission and his identity. He was the Son of God doing the Father’s business. His listeners take exception not only to his claims but his assertion that he can make men free. We are nobody’s slaves, they insist. The Jewish nation was famous for its stubborn resistance to rule by other nations. Individually, Jews, then and now, were known for financial independence. Jesus reminds them that there is more to freedom than that. He then points them to the ultimate source of freedom.
We need to hear that second truth. We celebrate July 4th because on that day in 1776 our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence. Many call it our country’s Birth Certificate. Do you remember its opening words?
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”